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Effects of Soil Pollution

The main reason for soil contamination is due to the presence of anthropogenic activities. These waste products are made of chemicals that are not originally found in nature and hence lead to soil pollution. Soil pollution is typically caused by industrial activity, chemicals used in agriculture and improper disposal of waste. 

Soil contamination leads to health risks due to direct and indirect contact with contaminated soil. Soil pollution causes huge disturbances in the ecological balance and the health of the organisms is under risk. 

Some of the serious problems caused by soil pollution are: 
  • Reduction in soil fertility.
  • Loss of the natural nutrients of the soil. 
  • Imbalance is the flora and fauna of the soil.
  • Salinity increases in the soil making it unfit for cultivation. 
  • Crops grown on polluted soil cause health problems on consumption,. 
  • Soil pollution creates toxic dust. 
  • Foul odor due to chemicals and gases can lead to problems like headaches, nausea, etc. 
  • Pollutants in soil cause alteration in soil structure, causing death of many soil organisms. This can affect the food chain.

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Effects on Humans

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  • Soil pollution has major consequences on human health. Consumption of crops and plants grown on polluted soil cause health hazards. This could explain small and terminal illness. 
  • Long term exposure to polluted soil affects the genetic make-up of the body and may congenital illnesses and chronic health diseases. 
  • Chronic exposure to heavy metals, petroleum, solvents and agricultural chemicals can be carcinogenic. 
  • Exposure to benzene for a long term is associated with higher incidence of leukemia. Mercury causes higher incidences of kidney damage. Cyclodienes are linked to liver toxicity. 
  • Organophosphates can lead to chain of responses leading to neuromuscular blockage. 
  • Chlorinated solvents induce damages to liver, kidney, depression of the central nervous system. 

Effect on Plant Growth

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  • The balance of ecological system is affected due to contamination of the soil. 
  • Plants are mostly unable to adapt to the change in the chemistry of the soil in short time period. 
  • The microorganisms found in the soil decline and creates additional problems of soil erosion. 
  • Fertility of the soil decreases due to soil pollution, making it unsuitable for agriculture and local vegetation to survive. 
  • Soil pollution is hazardous to health. 
  • Polluted lands cannot support most forms of life.

Soil Fertility

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  • The chemicals present in the soil due to pollution are toxic and can decrease the fertility of the soil, thereby decreasing the soil yield. 
  • Agriculture on contaminated soil produce fruits and vegetable that lack quality nutrients. 
  • Consumption of these may be poisonous and cause serious health problems to people consuming them.  

Toxic Dust

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  • Emissions of toxic gases and foul odor from the landfills pollute the environment and causes serious health effects on some people. 
  • The foul odor causes inconvenience to people.

Soil Structure

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  • Soil pollution can lead to death of many soil organisms like the earthworms which can lead to alteration in the soil structure. 
  • This can force other predators to move to other places in search of food. 

Control of Soil Pollution

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A number of ways have been suggested to curb the pollution rate. Attempts to clean up the environment require plenty of time and and resources. Some the steps to reduce soil pollution are:
  • Ban on use of plastic bags below 20 microns thickness. 
  • Recycling of plastic wastes.
  • Ban on deforestation. 
  • Encouraging plantation programmes. 
  • Encouraging social and agro forestry programmes.
  • Undertaking awareness programmes. 
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